Android Oreo superpowers, coming to a device near you.

From Sameer Samat, V

Today, Google is officially introducing Android 8.0 Oreo, the latest release of the platform–and it’s smarter, faster and more powerful than ever. It comes with new features like picture-in-picture and Autofill to help you navigate tasks seamlessly. Plus, it’s got stronger security protections and speed improvements that keep you safe and moving at lightspeed. When you’re on your next adventure, Android Oreo is the superhero to have by your side (or in your pocket!).

Android Oreo, to the rescue!

Ever try checking your schedule while staying on a video call?  Android Oreo makes it easy with picture-in-picture, letting you see two apps at once: it’s like having the power to be in two places at the same time! Overwhelmed by notifications, but missing the ones you care about the most? With Android Oreo, notification dots let you tap to see what’s new in your apps — like the important ones you put on your homescreen — and then take action on those notifications quickly.

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Android Oreo

Evildoers trying to get bad software onto your device? Android Oreo is more secure with Google Play Protect built in, security status front and center in settings, and tighter app install controls.

Battery depleted and still galaxies away from a charger? Been there, too. Android Oreo helps minimize unintentional overuse of battery from apps in the background;  these limits keep your battery going longer.

Supersonic speed

When you’re on the go, speed is perhaps the most important superpower. With Android Oreo, you can get started on tasks more quickly than ever with a faster boot speed (up to twice as fast on Pixel, in fact). Once you’re powered up, Autofillon Android Oreo remembers things like logins (with your permission) to quickly get you into your favorite apps. Plus, support for Android Instant Apps means you can teleport directly into new apps, no installation needed.

League of extraordinary emojis

Even superheroes don’t go it alone. Android Oreo brings along a team of fully-redesigned emojis, including new emoji to help save the day like:

androidEmoji_sample_850px.png

Coming to a device near you

We’re pushing the sources to Android Open Source Project (AOSP) for everyone to access today. Pixel and Nexus 5X/6P builds have entered carrier testing, and we expect to start rolling out in phases soon, alongside Pixel C and Nexus Player. We’ve also been working closely with our partners, and by the end of this year, hardware makers including Essential, General Mobile, HMD Global Home of Nokia Phones, Huawei, HTC, Kyocera, LG, Motorola, Samsung, Sharp and Sony are scheduled to launch or upgrade devices to Android 8.0 Oreo. Any devices enrolled in the Android Beta Program will also receive this final version. You can learn more at android.com/oreo.

How to prevent your Google Home or Amazon Echo from making unwanted online purchases

Did you hear about the kindergartner who “accidentally” ordered an expensive dollhouse with a voice command? We’ll show you how to lock down your smart speaker so that never happens to you.

By   Contributor, TechHive

There’s no denying that Google Home and Amazon Echo (or the less-expensive Echo Dot, if you’re not using it for music) have changed the way we interact with our homes. Turning on the lights has never been easier, nor has it been simpler to field the latest traffic report or order delivery for dinner. The future is here, and we’re reveling in it!

But the proliferation of these devices around our homes leaves room for error. Google’s and Amazon’s connected speakers must always listen for us to utter their magic “wake” words—OK Google or Alexa respectively—in order to perform their tasks. If you don’t configure them properly, you might see random purchases show up at your door.

It happened in San Diego when a little girl asked Alexa to deliver her a “dollhouse and some cookies.” She knew the right words to say, and in a few days’ time, she had her goodies. (If you want to have some fun, watch this news clip near your Alexa-powered device and watch it light up.)

If you’re worried about family members, roommates, or pranksters making unwanted purchases on your account, you can either disable this feature altogether, or set up your Google Home or Amazon Echo so that it buys things only after you’ve specifically authorized the purchase. Here’s how.

How to disable purchasing with Google Home

google home

Florence Ion

Google Home doesn’t have the retail power of Amazon behind it, but you can order merchandise from such major sources as Costco, Target, and Toys ‘R Us.

Google Home isn’t tied to one of the world’s largest online retailers, so you might think there’s less of a risk of unintended purchases. But it does provide voice-payment capabilities for Google Express, which allows you to purchase products from participating retailers such as Costco, Target, and Toys ‘R Us.

google payments

Google

If you decide you don’t want to do voice payments with Google Home, just flip the blue switch.

The payments setting is disabled by default in the Google Home app. If you’d enabled it previously and have since changed your mind, it’s easy to turn off. Just log into the Home app on your Android or iOS device, tap the hamburger menu, and choose “More settings.” Tap “Payments” on the next screen. Delete everything you see there. It’s the easiest way to ensure no one in your household can run rampant with your payment information on file. Alternatively, you can simply tick the “Pay through your Assistant” option so that it’s off and unselected.

How to enable purchases on Google Home

If you want to start—or restart—making payments with voice commands, open the Google Home app, tap the menu button, and then tap on Payments. Here you can set up a delivery address and a primary payment method. Google will automatically pull in any payment data previously associated with your account (and prompt you to update any expired or out-of-date cards). The app will ll also ask if you want to grant access to any Google Home devices you have set up in your home.

Once you’ve set that up, you can order things through Google Home by saying phrases such as “OK Google, order paper towels.” Google Home will list options for relevant items and their accompanying prices. Then, you can accept the order to place it officially.

You can even ask, “OK Google, how do I shop?” for a helpful walkthrough of the process. For other services, such as Domino’s pizza delivery, the payment information is set up separately through that company’s Easy Order, which fires up the oven right after you place your order. (This works with the Echo as well.)

google home payments

Florence Ion

You can enable and disable ordering on Google Home via the Home app.

Disabling purchasing on the Amazon Echo, Dot, Tap, and Show

Amazon’s smart speakers are quickly becoming smart-home workhorses, but they could also be considered Trojan horses aimed at capturing more and more of your shopping dollars.Here’s how to disable—and then re-enable—purchasing power with an Amazon Echo, Dot, Tap, or Show.

If you’ve previously enabled payments any of your Amazon Echos and want to now disable it, just launch the Alexa app on your smartphone or tablet. If you have more than one device in the Echo family, you’ll need scroll past all of them—and past the blue “Set up a new device” button—until you reach the “Voice Purchasing” button. Click on the radio button to disable this feature. You’re done.

amazon echo dot

Florence Ion

The process for enabling and disabling voice purchases is the same whether you have an Echo Dot (shown here), the original Echo, and Echo Tap, or the new Echo Show.

How to enable purchases via the Amazon Echo

Under Settings, scroll down to “Voice Purchasing.” Tap to enable “Purchase by voice.” It’s a good idea to set up a confirmation code at this point. It willl ensure no one can order things without your permission unless they know the code. Below that, you can select to manage your 1-Click payment settings, which selects which of your bank cards to use when the purchasing happens.

When you’re ready to buy something, you can ask Alexa to order anything from Amazon—physical as well as digital goods. If you’re listening to a song, for example, you can ask Amazon to purchase the MP3 with your payment information on file. Or if you’re in need of toilet paper, you can ask Alexa to send it over with two-day shipping.

If you’re stuck, or maybe a little shy, ask Alexa how to shop and it’ll walk you through what it can do.

amazon voice purchasing

Florence Ion

Amazon gives you the option of adding a confirmation code that must be spoken for an order to be placed.

When in doubt, mute it

If all else fails and your neighboring dwellers are still managing to make errant purchases, you can either unplug the device or mute it. The latter is particularly effective if you have children coming over who find it amusing to summon virtual assistants.

Then again, who doesn’t? It’s why we use our voices to buy things, after all, simply because we can.

The tougher Galaxy S8 Active is here with a bigger battery and a shatterproof display

Peace of mind and battery.

By   Staff Writer, PCWorld

 

If there’s one criticism of the Galaxy S8 (aside from the terrible placement of the fingerprint sensor), it’s that it’s a little too fragile. So if you’ve held off on buying because you’re afraid of breaking it, the Galaxy S8 Active is here to quell your fears.

The Galaxy S8 Active is essentially same phone as the Galaxy S8—5.8-inch Super AMOLED display, Snapdragon 835 chip, and a 12MP camera—but it’s outfitted to withstand a beating. Unlike the regular S8’s all-glass body, the S8 Active is constructed using “military-grade materials” and housed in a metal frame with four bumpers built to protect against “shock, abrasion, tilting or twisting.” Additionally, the screen has a shatter-resistant layer and the back of the phone now has a “rugged, tough texture” to make it less prone to slips and falls.

All that durability adds a bit of bulk to the device, measuring 151.9×74.9×9.9 mm vs 148.9×68.1×8 mm for the plain S8. At 208 grams, the new phone is a bit heavier than the 155-gram S8 as well. But you’re also getting a far bigger battery. The Galaxy S8 has a 3,000mAh battery, but the S8 Active has a massive 4,000mAh one, which should allow it to last well into a second day. And you can still charge it wirelessly.

The Galaxy S8 Active ships with full Bixby support (including Bixby Voice, which was missing on the Galaxy S8 until recently), and adds a new shortcut menu to quickly access the stopwatch, barometer, compass, and flashlight.

Samsung is selling the 64GB Galaxy S8 Active for $850 ($100 more than the Galaxy S8) in two colors, gray and gold. It is available for preorder at AT&Tfor shipment on Aug. 11. Samsung says the device will be exclusive to the carrier for a limited time.

Why this matters: Samsung has been making “active” variants of its Galaxy flagship phones ever since the S4, and they definitely live up to their name. They’re perfect for people who want a premium smartphone experience without babying their phone (or shoving it into a giant case. But like the other Galaxy S Active phones, we’re most interested in that battery. We’ll gladly sacrifice a millimeter of thickness of it means getting such a massive battery in the S9, but we’re not holding our breath, especially since the S7 Active had a 4,000mAh battery too.

La Casa Del Mar Guesthouse has a new website

We’re proud to announce the launch of the new website for La Casa Del Mar Guesthouse at Fort Lauderdale Beach.

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The pool at La Casa Del Mar Guesthouse at Fort Lauderdale Beach

La Casa Del Mar Guesthouse is a quiet little resort tucked away just steps from Fort Lauderdale Beach.  There’s also a rooftop lounge.  Please visit the site and consider  La Casa Del Mar Guesthouse for your next stay in Fort Lauderdale.

Telemarketers Just Got Harder to Stop

New technology allows users to leave voicemail without phone ever ringing

Telemarketer Voicemails

ERIK KHALITOV/GETTY IMAGES

Developers of the backdoor voicemail argue that the “do not call list” does not apply

We have all received them, on our home phone or cellphone — a telemarketer trying to sell us a product or service. Some of us simply ignore the call, others answer and quickly hang up, while some do listen to the telemarketer’s message. Soon, however, we might not have any of those options; telemarketers have a direct way into our voicemail.

Ringless voicemail is a new technology that allows users to leave you a voicemail through a back door, without the phone ever ringing. There is growing concern that this capability can allow telemarketers to flood your voicemail, causing you to miss important messages.

The technology has been successfully used for hospitals, schools and churches, and developer Josh Justice, CEO of Stratics, says he believes it can be a success in other ways. Justice told NBC News: “Ringless voicemail drops are a non-nuisance form of messaging and are an alternative to robocalls. It really does put the power in that consumer’s hand where they can essentially listen to the message or not listen to the message.”

There are consumer protection laws that restrict some telemarketing, but it’s unclear if ringless voicemail falls under the restrictions. The providers of the technology and business groups contend that since the phone doesn’t ring, it’s not a call — and therefore exempt from the current laws, the New York Times reported.

A provider of the service has already filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission to officially allow it. The commission has been accepting public comments on the issue, but hasn’t given a timetable of when it would make a decision.

Politicians are divided on the issue, as it could also restrict their use of the service for campaign purposes.

As of now there is no way to block the unwanted voicemails. Phones don’t yet have a spam feature comparable to those on emails, and developers of the backdoor voicemail argue that the “do not call list” does not apply. You can comment on the petition, or contact the FCC to file a complaint.

What Google’s New SEO Algorithm Means to Your Website.

Google’s New SEO Algorithm Looks for This When Ranking Sites

The rules of SEO are constantly evolving.

Search engines like Google update their algorithms so frequently, and it can be dizzying to know how to get your site ranked the way you want. One thing is clear, however: keywords just aren’t enough to get you the traffic you want.

So what will give you results when it comes to SEO? According to Google’s latest algorithm, Hummingbird, you need to build sitewide trust.

Trust is the core component of Google’s relevancy-oriented search, and without it, you won’t be relevant.

Building real trust with Google isn’t easy. The smarter the system gets, the harder it can be to rank. But don’t worry just yet. There are things you can do to ensure that your site still ranks the way you want it to.

Why Google’s SEO Algorithms Matter

Google’s algorithm rules aren’t arbitrary: they have a purpose. Before you can improve your SEO ranking, you have to understand the ultimate motivation.

Google’s main goal is to deliver the most relevant search results as fast as possible.

They use deep neural networks of data to create a system that can think like the human brain, or attempt to, anyway. This approach is called “deep learning” and it’s used all across the Internet to improve user experience.

It’s ultimately an effort to help computers process information the same way humans do.

So when you search for “best website design ideas,” you get results based not only on your query, but on your search history, what other people are searching for, and what sites have content that closely resembles what the engine thinks you mean.

The smarter that the algorithms get – the more humanlike – the harder it is to “game” the system. Plugging your site with random keywords doesn’t work anymore, because Google can see through your attempt to keyword stuff.

Instead, you have to get Google to trust you. How do you do this?

In a book entitled SEO 2017: Master Search Engine OptimizationR.L. Adamslays the groundwork: You build trust with age, authority and content.

Building Trust with Age

You may think that using age as a ranking factor puts newer sites at a disadvantage, but know that with Google, age is more than a number.

Google relies on its relationship with your site over time to judge whether or not you’re trustworthy enough to list on the first few pages. Time is still a factor – the longer it knows you exist, the more likely you will be to rank – but if it sees that you produce value for visitors over time (you have heavy traffic, your site gets linked to, you produce frequent content, etc.), your relationship will improve.

For sites that have been around longer, this gives you an automatic boost to your rankings, which may come as a relief. For newer sites, or those that post less frequently, you will still have to build up your reputation over time.

Keep in mind that age doesn’t necessarily mean when you launched your site, though. Age refers to the indexed age, meaning when Google actually discovered you first. So if you had a site for a while but haven’t done anything with it until now, you will still be a baby in Google’s eyes.

Building Trust with Authority

If you don’t have age in your favor, you can also boost your ranking with authority.

In the past, you would build authority through your Google PageRank. The higher on the scale of 1-10 your site sat, the more trusted it would be. If you could link to more established (higher ranking) sites, you could boost your own score.

While Google still uses PageRank as a factor in SEO, they no longer gives public access to PageRank ratings, making it impossible to know how you actually fare. Instead, Google uses Domain Authority to determine the trustworthiness of your site.

Domain Authority is a score (100 points) developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages (SERP). While it’s not a direct replacement for PageRank, it does allow you to see where your site sits in the rankings.

What makes Domain Authority helpful is that it gives you a way to measure the strength of your links. You can see exactly which sites are giving you the best boosts and which links are altogether worthless for your ranking power.

A few ways to improve your Domain Authority include:

  • Optimizing your internal links – Making sure links go to relevant content, use natural anchors that make sense to users, are linked to the right keywords, etc.
  • Creating more link-worthy content – Avoiding keyword stuffing, but creating content that does link out to other sites
  • Pursuing higher quality links – Linking to trustworthy (older, more established) sources, putting your site in a directory like Google My Business, Yelp, TripAdvisor and the Better Business Bureau, etc.
  • Running link audits – Eliminating broken or bad links as often as possible

The better links you have (the better your link profile is), the better your Domain Authority will be.

Building Trust with Content

The other thing that Google looks for when building trust is fresh, quality content.

When you publish quality content on a regular basis, you give Google more opportunities to index your site for links as well as for targeted keywords (yes, keywords still matter).

Frequently adding content, like blogs or articles, allows you to optimize the article with pertinent keywords that can attract visitors to your site, and provides you additional ways to link to authoritative sources and higher ranking sites.

The trick is that your content has to deliver genuine value. In the past, Google’s algorithms would look at the number and frequency of keywords being used throughout the content on your site to determine relevancy.

But the trouble with this is that Google’s new algorithms actually punish keyword stuffing. Instead, the algorithm looks for specific keywords or keyphrases (even “natural language” search phrases and questions) that fall into the content naturally.

In other words, the keywords have to make sense in context – and yes, Google can tell.

This means that for content to help you build your credibility, it has to:

  • Be popular enough to attract traffic
  • Include relevant keywords naturally
  • Provide enough value that users share and save it
  • Include meta tags, title tags and descriptions
  • Be published frequently

The good news is that you can publish as much content as you want, as long as it’s high-quality. This can be one of the best strategies for newer sites looking to rank higher in SERPs, since Google will still build a relationship with your content even if you haven’t been around for long enough to have age or link authority.

Final Thoughts

If you want to create a site that ranks under Google’s new SEO algorithm, you have to focus on building a relationship with Google and steer clear of smarmy tactics like keyword stuffing or over-linking.

Thanks to Artificial Intelligence, Google thinks and acts more like a human when it processes your site, meaning that, in a way, it’s judging what you have out there.

In order to make sure it trusts your content, you want to produce content that offers value for searchers, build natural links and relationships with other high-ranking sites, and stick around long enough for Google to see you.

Ask us what we can do to help.  It’s easier than you think.

Why you should still include ‘Sent from my iPhone’ in your mobile signature

Those four little words reveal more than you think

The blog of researcher, writer and speaker Rob Ashton

While conducting some research recently, I discovered a question in a web forum that got me thinking. In a nutshell, the question was: should you include ‘Sent from my iPhone [or Android phone etc.]’ at the foot of an email if you’re composing it on a mobile device?

I confess that, until a few weeks ago, I’d assumed such questions were now redundant. Smartphones and tablets are hardly new. Surely by now we’re all over the ‘Look at me with the latest piece of tech wizardry’ thing, aren’t we?

In fact, couldn’t such a line in an email signature even backfire? After all, it’s a simple enough task to customise it or even remove it altogether. Leaving it in would therefore suggest that you were actually a little, well, technologically challenged.

But then the offending line reappeared in my own iPhone signature, after a software update. Mildly irritated, I resolved to customise it as soon as I had a couple of minutes.

Two weeks later, I still hadn’t updated it. By then though, I was beginning to wonder if there might actually be an advantage to leaving it there.

After all, surely letting people know that I was emailing on the hoof would buy me some leeway when it came to the odd typo or malapropism (at least ‘for all intensive purposes’, if not ‘kind retards’).

It’s not just me – or you

Intrigued, I started doing a little digging and soon found I was not alone, which is how I discovered the forum question.

At the time of reading, the question had attracted 35 responses. A little more rooting around revealed a Guardian article on the same subject that was followed by no fewer than 590 comments. Clearly, it wasn’t just me who was unsure – nor the person who posted the original forum query.

The response reflected a range of views similar to how my own had changed over time. Some people were adamant that you should remove that line altogether, if only to show that you were not a Luddite and incapable of using anything other than default settings.

One person even argued that email signatures don’t matter at all; in fact, they were a distraction from the message and best left off. I would certainly argue strongly against that advice. At the very least, a signature should contain a phone number unless you specifically don’t want your correspondent(s) to know it. I’ve often cursed the lack of this information in an email when I needed to contact someone urgently – say, to explain that I was running late or even to place some business. (This has resulted in potential suppliers losing sales on more than one occasion.)

But opinion generally seemed divided between those who thought the line irrelevant and those who thought it important in setting context and therefore how much detail you should expect.

Clearly there was still some confusion, so I went in search of a better answer. I wondered if there had even been any definitive research on the topic.

The science of sizing people up

There had – and the results were pretty intriguing.

The short answer to the question of whether you should write ‘Sent from my iPhone’ is: yes, you should. Or, at least, you should indicate that you’re sending the message from some sort of mobile device.

But the reason why is longer. Not only that, but it’s the key that unlocks a fascinating area of communication science. Knowledge of that science can enable you to improve everything from a response to a customer-support request to a bid for a contract worth many millions.

The research area is called uncertainty reduction theory  (URT). It’s far from a new idea: it was first formulated by social scientists back in 1975. Yet, unless you’re an academic yourself, I doubt you will have heard of it. Certainly, I’ve yet to find it in any book on communication aimed at business or the general public. (I’m working on a fix for that.)

The central idea of URT states that our primary aim in any initial interaction with people is to reduce uncertainty about them. In other words, we want to check that they are what (or who) they say they are, that they have our best interests at heart or that they really will help us having said they would.

This is such an established idea among academics that dozens of them have expanded on or qualified it (for example, to apply it beyond just initial interactions). But the core concept remains firm.

If you think that’s a cynical view of human interaction and that we should have more faith in humanity, bear in mind that you probably carry out this checking process all the time. It’s just that the mechanisms are so ingrained that you may do it very quickly and even subconsciously.

Our main way to reduce uncertainty is through communication, so we have more than one in-built way to work out what’s true and what isn’t whenever someone is sending us a message – be that in writing or verbally.

Communication reduces uncertainty

We’re primed to look for clues – or cues – either that all is well and we can continue with the interaction or that we need to be sceptical and proceed with caution.

Often we send out these cues unintentionally. Many of them we can’t even control very easily, and people we communicate with use those cues. Humans are hard-wired to place a high value on them, according to an area of research allied to URT called warranting theory, which calls these most valuable signals ‘high-warrant’ cues.

Those signals that we can easily manipulate (such as our words) are called low-warrant cues. And we use high-warrant cues to decide how much notice we should take of low-warrant ones.

By now, you’re probably beginning to realise that this is a pretty big deal. After all, if we’re all programmed to look out for signals that those around us have little control over, it could explain why communication so often fails.

Taking control of communication

Note though that high-warrant cues are those we can’t control very easily. That doesn’t mean we can never control them. Some are just things that we think don’t matter much and so don’t pay much attention to.

And that means that, if we work out what those high-warrant yet controllable cues are, we’ll be able to tweak them and begin to (perhaps radically) improve the success rate of our communications.

All of which leads us back (at last) to ‘Sent from my iPhone’. Because, although that’s something that most of us now know how to edit or switch off, that’s not always been the case.

In 2012, two researchers, Caleb Carr and Chad Stefaniak, decided to test the effect of including this phrase in an email signature. It was five years after the first iPhones were introduced, and this signature line was still very common in messages. The reason it was still common was that many people didn’t know how to change it – in other words, it was a high-warrant cue.

Riddled with errors

In their study, they particularly wanted to test how that cue in an email affected perception of its sender and its sender’s organisation. To do so, they recruited a group of 111 people and showed them one of four forms of the same, basic message. The four versions contained a combination of either multiple errors or no errors and a ‘Sent from my iPhone’ signature or just the sender’s name and organisation.

Now, many of the errors were far from subtle. When I read the original paper, I spotted no fewer than 12 mistakes in the uncorrected example used. They included incorrect capitalising in the name of the sender’s employer, numerous missed apostrophes and sentences that ended with no full stop. The researchers clearly didn’t want to risk participants failing to pick up on these cues.

The message purported to be from an HR director. And participants were asked to rate the sender’s credibility as well as their competence and the prestige of the sender’s employer.

The results? Not surprisingly, the errors had a damaging effect in all three of these areas. But, despite the number of mistakes, the presence of ‘Sent from my iPhone’ significantly reduced that damage.

Smart move to get readers on side

The results do at least prove that, if you indicate you’re sending a message from your smartphone, your reader will generally forgive the odd mistake.

And this stuff matters. Almost nine out of ten smartphone owners (88 per cent) use their phones to send or receive email, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center. This makes email one of the smartphone’s most popular features. Unlike with text messaging, however, the medium used to compose an email is not obvious unless you make it so. And while we forgive typos in a text, we’re less lenient with emails.

But the implications of this and similar studies go way beyond showing that it’s a good idea to indicate that you are emailing from a mobile device. Because they show that the unintentional cues we send out when we write or speak have a huge impact on how our audience perceives what we’re trying to say.

In communication, first and foremost, it’s the little things that count.

This is How Top Bloggers Get 90% of Their Traffic

Get your SEO strategy figured out, then go crazy creating content.

This is How Top Bloggers Get 90% of Their Traffic

Image credit: lechatnoir | Getty Images

Related: 3 Essential Tools to Utilize When Starting a Company Blog

Social networks, for example, can be a great way to drive traffic to your blog. But they are not the most dominant force out there. Similarly, advertising on social networks can be effective, but only for the length of time you are running them and shelling out cash. It’s yet another machine which, with rare exceptions, does not compound upon its success. This is why the vast majority of top bloggers, even those spending a lot of time promoting themselves on social media, will tell you that social media is not where they get the majority of their traffic from.

An influencer in this space who knows this all too well, Darren Rowse, runs ProBlogger, a website with a huge following that teaches bloggers how to create and grow their blog. I heard him speak to this issue of — where bloggers get traffic — on his podcast, so I reached out to him to get more detail.

“Most bloggers that I talk with admit to focusing most of their promotional efforts on social media,” he said. “However, when you dig into where most established bloggers get the majority of their actual traffic, the answer I often hear is from Google. It seems to me that many bloggers are overlooking one of the biggest and most lucrative sources of traffic: search. The lure of viral traffic from social is strong but if bloggers put a little bit of time each day into their search strategy instead, I believe they would be far more successful.”

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is really the only traffic-driving force that has the potential to one day cross the bell-curve and work passively in your favor. The chances of someone stumbling across your social post from a year ago and sharing it with their audience, for example, is highly unlikely. And yet year-old blog posts constantly find their way to the top of search queries and continue to bring in big ticket traffic for websites that understand the value of quality content.

For example, according to a study by Hubspot, “66 percent of marketers say improving SEO and growing their organic presence is their top inbound marketing priority. Similarly, a report by Ascend2 stated, “72 percent of marketers say relevant content creation was the most effective SEO tactic.”

Marketing and SEO expert Neil Patel attributes his blog’s 206 percent traffic increase to the art of search engine optimization and the effectiveness of creating valuable content for the web.

So, what are the steps to creating content with an SEO strategy in mind?

1. Start with relevant keywords, and search for the low-hanging fruit.

You need a firm grasp on what people in your industry or niche are searching for in order to create successful content. A few ways you can do this:

  • Use Google’s keyword planner, or a tool like Ubersuggest.
  • Search keywords on Quora, and look for what questions people are asking.
  • Do a few web searches with those related keywords to see who is currently dominating the first two pages of search.

Once you have a sense of what people are searching for surrounding your area of expertise or interest, you can start to cater your content toward the keywords that are not as competitive. For example, ranking on the first page for “social media” is going to be much harder than if you were to try rank for something more targeted like “real estate social media strategy.”

Related: Why You Should Republish Old Blog Content

2. Create long-form content for better searchability.

Marketers often talk about how today’s online readers have short attention spans, but I don’t buy this for a minute. Readers don’t hate long form content, they hate bad content. They hate bad content even more when it’s long. If the content is great content, then they want even more of it.

A study by Buzzsumo found that long-form content between 3,000 and 10,000 words ended up performing the best online. In fact, according to the study, “There are 16 times more content with less than 1,000 words than there were content with 2,000+ words.”

What this means is that trying to stand out with short-form content in a world of saturated short-form content is extremely difficult. However, if you come in wielding long-form, keyword specific, valuable content, you are far more likely to rise to the top of the rankings and accumulate more organic search traffic. Just make sure it’s great content people actually want to read.

3. Establish a network of backlinks from other websites.

If understanding the landscape is step one, and creating valuable content is step two, then step three is expanding your reach and having other blogs and websites point to your website via backlinks. According to Hubspot, “Companies that blog have 97 percent more inbound links.”

Here are a few ways you can get websites and content publishers to link back to your content:

  • Reach out via email to relevant content publishers in your space or market, and let them know about your content piece. Ask them if it’s a good fit for their audience, and if so, to feel free to share it.
  • Create a similar piece of content for another website, and link back to your own content as an added resource or reference.
  • Quote or otherwise include relevant content creators in your space in your content, and when you publish it, tag them in your social media posts with the article. Do you think they’ll share it? Of course they will!

The key is to get what you’ve created in front of the right people, whether that’s through email outreach, social media or even good old fashioned networking.

Related: How Real Marketers Create Backlinks That Matter

With SEO there’s bad news, and there’s good news. The bad news is that SEO is a long-term strategy, which means you’ll need to do a lot of work for a long time to get consistently great results. The good news is that because it’s a long-term strategy, most of your competitors won’t focus on it, and then you win.

 

From: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/290894

The New Chrome and Safari Will Reshape the Web

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APPLE AND GOOGLE are cracking down on obnoxious online ads. And they just might change the way the web works in the process.

Last week Google confirmed that Chrome—the most widely used web browser in the world—will block all ads on sites that include particularly egregious ads, including those that autoplay videos, hog too much of the screen, or make you wait to see the content you just clicked on.

Apple meanwhile announced yesterday that Safari will soon stop websites from automatically playing audio or video without your permission. The company’s next browser update will even give users the option to load pages in “Reader” mode by default, which will strip not only ads but many other layout elements. The next version will also step up features to block third parties from tracking what you do online.

But the two companies’ plans don’t just mean a cleaner web experience. They represent a shift in the way web browsers work. Instead of passively downloading and running whatever code and content a website delivers, these browsers will take an active role shaping your web experience. That means publishers will have to rethink not just their ads but their assumptions about what readers do and don’t see when they visit their pages.

For years, browsers have simply served as portals to the web, not tools for shaping the web itself. They take the code they’re given and obediently render a page as instructed. Sure, browsers have long blocked pop-up ads and warned users who tried to visit potentially malicious websites. But beyond letting you change the font size, browsers don’t typically let you do much to change the content of a page.

“Browsers have always been about standards and making sure that all browsers show the same content,” says Firefox vice president of product Nick Nguyen. “It’s been a neutral view of the web.”

The problem is that this complacency has led to a crappier web. Publishers plaster their sites with ads that automatically play video and audio without your permission. Advertisers collect data about the pages you visit. And criminals sometimes use bad ads to deliver malware.

 Many people have taken the matter into their own hands by installing plugins to block ads or trackers. About 26 percent of internet users have ad blockers on their computers, according to a survey conducted by the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Some 10 percent have ad blockers on their phones.

Now browser-makers are starting to build these types of features right into their products. Firefox added tracker-blocking to its private browser mode in 2015, and Opera added an optional ad-blocking feature last year. Meanwhile, newer companies like Brave and Cliqz have launched privacy-centric browsers of their own.

Now, thanks to Apple and Google, this trend is going mainstream. About 54 percent of all web surfers used Chrome last month, according to StatCounter, and about 14 percent used Safari. In other words, nearly all browsers will at the very least let users curb the worst ads on the sites they visit. And websites will have to adjust.

The Business of Blocking

It might seem weird for Google, one of the world’s largest advertising companies, to build an ad-blocking tool right into one of its core products. But the search giant may be engaging in a bit of online judo. Google only plans to block ads on pages that feature types of ads identified by an ad-industry trade group as the most annoying. Google may be hoping that stripping out the worst ads will eliminate the impetus to download much stronger third-party ad blockers that also block its own ads and tracking.

Apple, which doesn’t depend on advertising revenue, is taking a more radical approach. In addition to blocking cookies that could be used to track people across sites, the company will also give users the choice to display only the main content of a page, throwing out not just ads but extras like lists of “related stories” and other enticements to stay on a particular site. The page’s prescribed fonts and color scheme get thrown out as well.

Safari has offered the reader view as an option since 2010, but traditionally you’ve had to load a page before you can turn the option on. Letting people turn it on by default means they could visit pages and never see the original versions. That’s a big change that goes well beyond ad-blocking. It means that a page’s code could soon act more as a set of suggestions for how browsers should present its content, not a blueprint to be followed as closely as possible.

That doesn’t just change the way companies have to think about ads. It changes the relationship between reader and publisher—and between publishers and browser makers. For example, Brave—the privacy-centric browsing company founded by Firefox creator Brendan Eich—hopes to essentially invert the advertising business model by having the browser, not the webpage, serve up ads, then share the revenue with publishers. That’s just one new model that this new paradigm makes possible, whether publishers like it or not.

Google Attribution: A Huge Analytics Change Is Coming Your Way

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